In my memoir The Settler’s Cookbook I describe khichri- a simple concoction that Asians believe to be the first and bestest power food in the world. My children ( now 33 and 18) were given a few spoonfuls with milk when they were being weaned and can still go all babyishly excited when I cook up pot. It doesn’t look that appetising- a bit like greying porridge really. But smells like comfort and tastes like a mother’s hug. Mixed with butter or yogurt or cold milk and sugar, it makes you feel alls well with the world and your stomach.
When my mother Jena was dying in hospital, her friends brought her little plastic boxes of khichri, as if that would bring her back to stay around a little bit longer. Her time, sadly, was up. I brought home the containers and wept.
Last week was tough, little time, too much work and two failed dishes- one because I bought beef when I thought I was buying cut leg of lamb- so red, I thought, no fat at all. Stupid or what? The beef-that-was-not-lamb was still dry and tough after three hours. Fibres still lurk between my teeth. Then I forgot to add soda to my soda bread having gone to three shops to find buttermilk. What a waste. Even the hungry birds don’t touch it. And it was five years since Jena died.
So khichri it had to be. It took away the frustration and brought her back to me.
1 cup pudding rice
1 cup moong bean lentils un-hulled
2 tbsps butter
1 pt water
Heat water to boiling point in a pot with a lid and add salt.
Add the rice and lentils and lower the temperature to simmer for forty minutes.
Check half way- if too dry add a cup of water. More if you need. You can cover it with a lid but leave an opening to stop it boiling over.
It should go soft and grey.
Take the pot off the heat. Put on the lid firmly and leave for ten minutes.
Then beat in the butter and mush.
Eat with yogurt and chilli powder, milk and sugar or just with the butter. Or chopped red onions or anything really.